Saturday, April 25, 2009


Coming through China, Buddhism influenced by Taoism became known as Chan - Chinese for the Sanskrit "Dhyana" - meaning meditation. From China to Japan, it became Zen.We kept the word, it is probably a good idea...

As the Italians put it "Traduttore - Traditore" - Translator, you are a traitor.

The Historic Buddha preached in Pali, the language of common people. However, his teachings were recorded in Sanskrit, the language of the learned Brahman.
From then it was transcribed into Chinese - in some cases into Tibetan, then Chinese - then into Japanese, then into English...
And these languages also evolved between the times of the first transcriptions and now.
Master Dogen wrote his Shobogenzo in Medieval Japanese of the 13th century. If Japanese changed as much as French between the 13th and the 21st centuries, present day Japanese people probably can't read the original. So Master Dogen went to China to study the Dharma in Medieval Chinese, he wrote in Medieval Japanese (and Chinese), he was translated in Modern Japanese, and into ENglish (or French, or Catalan...) And we should expect one only translation ?

Another way to express the difficulties of Translation was given to us at the Zen service in Atlanta last week. It goes like that :
Translations are like mistresses, the most beautiful ones usually are not faithful...

Let's remember this when we study. Some translations are more poetic and appealing than others. They may also be easier to understand. But how accurate are they ?

Wiregrass Zazenkai cancelled

Unfortunately I could not secure a good place to organize our Zazenkai with Sensei Elliston on May 17, and we will have to cancel it. Next year, my Dojo should be ready and it will make things easier.

There is no need to rush. I am trying to bring Zen to our area, and it will happen as it has to. As Sensei told me last Tuesday in Troy, trying to push for it would be like trying to push a rope...

Wu Wei...

French Judo

French Judoka Lucie Decosse placed first at the European Judo Tournament in the than 70 kg category (150 lb) beating Kerstin Thiele from Germany by Ippon this Saturday April 25 in Tbilisi, Georgia (Not the US Georgia, the EU one). This is the 4th time she wins the European title. She got Silver in Beijing spearing in the less than 63 kg category (less than 130 lb). Since then she has moved to the heavier category and won the 4 tournaments she entered.

So far the French won 4 medals. 2 golds and 2 bronzes

French judoka are very competitive at international level.
I suppose it is due to the fact that the French Judo federation is powerful and well organized.

Also, Promotion rules are simple.
To test for Shodan you have to perform one kata with a partner, and beat 10 black belts in official tournaments. It can be done in a few weeks, or in a few years.
For Niddan, you have to beat 10 second degree black belts.

And you cannot test untill you are 16.

There is of course a way to test without competing, but it is much more complicated, and I do not really know how it is done, the thing is, most people chose the sparring option. No wonder they have good competitors.

Now, I am not sure the founder Jigoro Kano Sensei would agree with such a promotion system, for although it creates great fighters, they may not have all the qualities one might expect from a Martial Artist (Respect and Manners…). However, once again, it creates great fighters who are a model for younger practitioners.

If people had to be 16 before they can test for Black Belt, and had to win 10 fights against certified black belts, I believe it would tremendously raise the level of that art.

Just a thought…

Monday, April 20, 2009

Elliston Sensei Visit to Troy

Elliston Sensei will be tomorrow in Troy, Alabama to give a Presentation about Zen.
Time : 7:30 p.m.
Location : Student Center Theater on the Troy University Campus.

Michael Elliston Sensei is the Abbot of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center and my Zen Instructor.
I have been blessed to train in various disipline under great Masters. Elliston Sensei is one of them. Others are Rolland Hernaez Sensei in Nihon Ju Jitsu and Tai Jitsu, Mike Culbreth and Hiroaki Toyama Sensei in Yoshukai Karate and Masayaki Shimabukuro Sensei in Iai Jutsu.

Whatever I try to convey to you - and you hopefully appreciate, I hold it and owe it from one of these men, who owe it from their own masters... One day I'll have to tell more about them !

I will attend this function as I should do as his student and disciple

For those of you who live ion the Wiregrass, please try to come to Troy, the opportunity to meet someone who has been practicing Zen for longer than I have done Martial Arts does not occur very often - or as we say in my native Vimeu, "it is not found under a lame horse's hoof"

Once again, I am only able to do what I do because of men like him teach me. It would be nice and profitable to everyone if some of you could also attend and show your interest and appreciation.

Here is the map of the Campus

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Traditional Blade maintenance involves Choji oil for lubrication and pumice chalk powder, delivered with a funky little tool to clean up and polish the blade. Although it is all very nice, these are not materials you find at your local hardware store.

It is important to clean up and maintain your blade after any use, specially Shinken - all of them made of carbon steel that rusts very easily. After our last Tameshigiri session in November, I waited too long (24 hours) to clean up and oil my blade, and there were a few stains showing were the mat had been cut.

In case of emergency, I found out that NOXON 7 metal polish is an excellent stain remover - you can get it in any Autopart store for about $5.00, and Remington gun oil an excellent lubricant - Available from all gun shops fro about $5.00 also.

I know, this is NOT traditional, but personally I'd rather maintain my sword in a non-traditional way than see it rusted in a traditional way...

Samurais were practical people, and they would very likely have
used these very convenient products had they been available back then !
Our next Iai Jutsu - KenJutsu seminar will be held at the Yoshukai Karate Dojo in Dothan next Saturday April 11.

We will begin at 11:00 a.m.

Joe Byers, newly promoted to Nidan level following an unscheduled test (Congratulations Joe) will be coming from Pensacola to be our instructor.

Please plan to be there. Everybody is welcome to come by and watch the class.